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2013 NFL Free Agency: Chicago Bears to pursue OT Jake Long (Open Thread)

Finally... Today is the day. NFL Free Agency will officially begin at 3pm central time, and Windy City Gridiron will be here all day with breaking news. We'll be your go to stop for discussion, speculation, and general open thread chit chat. Please remember that open threads are rated WCG-MA.

Mike Ehrmann

Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun Times is reporting that the Chicago Bears plan to make a run at former Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long.

There has been a bunch of Jake Long talk on Windy City Gridiron, some pro, some con, but he is the top free agent prospect available this free agent season. He's had some injury issues the last couple years, but he is a 4 time Pro Bowl player. Pro Football Focus has shown his game making a steady decline the last three years, from the Sun Times;

Long was ranked 47th out of 75 tackles last season. In 2011, he was 21st but second in 2010 and second in 2009.

That is a point I addressed in yesterday's Free Agent Open Thread, when I contrasted his decline to the improvement of current Bears LT J'Marcus Webb;

Webb improved by +18.8 from his 2010 grade to his 2011 grade, and his 2012 grade improved by +15.4 from his 2011 grade.

Long has declined by -22.6 from 2010 to 2011, and by -12.5 from 2011 to 2012.

Long, the former #1 overall draft pick from the 2008 draft class, is just 27 years old, so calling him washed up may be premature. The problem could be his expected salary demands. Jensen says he's looking for an average of between $11-$12 million per year, and I don't see any way the Bears could justify giving out that type of cash.

MORE: 2013 Free agency: Guards

UPDATE: Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Bears are "hot" in pursuit of Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt. His price tag is expected to come in under $6 million per year, and he would be strictly an option as a RT.